As recently acknowledged by The Washington Post, US Special Forces are directly involved in military operations in Libya, «coordinating American airstrikes and providing intelligence information» to local forces battling the Islamic State (IS) for Sirte, 450 kilometres to the east of Tripoli.
British special forces have also been active in Libya for several months, providing direct military support to brigades from Misurata (Libya’s third largest city situated in the northwest of the country), which are also attacking Sirte. Paradoxically, the British and Americans are supporting irreconcilable enemies in the Libyan conflict as allies.
France is also involved in the intervention in Libya. On 26 July, in Libya a helicopter containing three French soldiers was shot down. French special forces are supporting the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the armed forces of the Libyan Parliament (the House of Representatives) located in Tobruk in the west of the country. The French soldiers were killed by militants from the Benghazi Defence Brigades – an armed group formed by radicals from Misurata. The group is led by Ismail al-Sallabi, the brother of Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali al-Sallabi. Its aim is to prevent General Khalifa Haftar gaining control of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, and the oil fields in Cyrenaica.
It has to be said that the battle between the militants from Misurata and the Islamic State is rather conditional in nature. The Islamic State in Libya is an experiment by the Qatari intelligence agencies, and an unsuccessful one at that. Unlike Syria and Iraq, there are no prerequisites for the expansion of the Islamic State in Libya. In Iraq, the emergence of the IS was largely due to the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict, which does not exist in Libya. In addition, the ideology of the Islamic State involves the unification of Islamists regardless of tribal affiliation. This is possible in Syria and Iraq, but is out of the question in Libya, where the tribal factor determines the structure of society. Realising that its experiment had failed, Qatar began strengthening the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood with the Misurata tribe and the fighting in Sirte is an attempt to use one group of Islamists to remove another.
After learning of the downed French helicopter, Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of Libya’s national unity government, which has little real power over the country, condemned the actions of Paris, calling them an intervention. It is interesting, however, that al-Sarraj’s government is taking a completely different line with regard to America’s intervention in Libya, which does not just consist of special forces operations, but also the bombing of IS positions by US F-16 fighter jets. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on 9 August, the Libyan prime minister said that there are no US ground troops in Libya, only the US Air Force, which is carrying out surgical strikes on terrorist targets. In doing so, Fayez al-Sarraj deliberately misled the reading public just as Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council that overthrew the Gaddafi government, misled the public in the summer of 2011. Nobody mentions Abdul Jalil today, he has disappeared from the radar screens. Will the political biography of al-Sarraj, whose government has become a fig leaf covering up Western intervention, turn out to be just as short? Especially as his government is not the only one in Libya. Besides the National Unity Government, there is also the previously-mentioned House of Representatives in Tobruk, which is based on an elected parliament, and a government in Tripoli. However, these two governments together control only a small part of the country. As well as these, there are hundreds of armed groups that, strictly speaking, are the real masters of the situation.
The National Unity Government (a name that actually sounds comical given the current situation in Libya) was formed under the mediation of the UN and the West and from April to July this year was even too afraid to appear in Tripoli, its headquarters located at the Bu Sitta naval base on an island not far from the Libyan capital (similar to the ‘Green Zone’ in Baghdad set up by US occupying forces). One of the first steps taken by the new government was to begin talks on the merger of two oil companies operating independently of each other in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. Upon hearing this, the ears of al-Sarraj’s Western sponsors pricked up, since their first and primary interest is Libyan oil. As a consequence, fighting for the control of territory is mostly taking place in Sirte and Ajdabiya, where Libya’s main oil terminals are located. The second interest of those involved in NATO’s Libyan intervention is to safeguard Europe’s southern flank from Libya’s coastline, which stretches for 1800 kilometres.
NATO justified its first Libyan intervention in 2011 with concerns for the establishment of democracy in the country following the overthrow of Gaddafi’s «tyrannical regime». This time, the intervention is being justified by the need to combat Islamic extremism. Something has changed in the five years between 2011 and 2016, however: while the anti-Gaddafi opposition held meeting after meeting in Benghazi in 2011 calling for NATO troops to be deployed in the country, now, after the French helicopter was shot down, meetings are being held in Libya against Western intervention.
Over the past five years, Libyans have learned a lot from their bitter experience: they have realised that ‘help’ from the West in establishing ‘democracy’ and in the ‘fight against extremism’ brings nothing but destruction, death and the displacement of those still alive. Today, three million Libyans, which is half of the country’s population, are forced to live outside of their homeland.
In a column mocking the political ignorance of the “dumbed-down” American people and lamenting the death of “objective fact,” New York Times columnist Timothy Egan shows why so many Americans have lost faith in the supposedly just-the-facts-ma’am mainstream media.
Egan states as flat fact, “If more than 16 percent of Americans could locate Ukraine on a map, it would have been a Really Big Deal when Trump said that Russia was not going to invade it — two years after they had, in fact, invaded it.”
But it is not a “fact” that Russia “invaded” Ukraine – and it’s especially not the case if you also don’t state as flat fact that the United States has invaded Syria, Libya and many other countries where the U.S. government has launched bombing raids or dispatched “special forces.” Yet, the Times doesn’t describe those military operations as “invasions.”
Nor does the newspaper of record condemn the U.S. government for violating international law, although in every instance in which U.S. forces cross into another country’s sovereign territory without permission from that government or the United Nations Security Council, that is technically an act of illegal aggression.
In other words, the Times applies a conscious double standard when reporting on the actions of the United States or one of its allies (note how Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria was just an “intervention”) as compared to how the Times deals with actions by U.S. adversaries, such as Russia.
Biased on Ukraine
The Times’ reporting on Ukraine has been particularly dishonest and hypocritical. The Times ignores the substantial evidence that the U.S. government encouraged and supported a violent coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014, including a pre-coup intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should lead the new government and how to “midwife this thing.”
The Times also played down the key role of neo-Nazis and extreme nationalists in killing police before the coup, seizing government building during the coup, and then spearheading the slaughter of ethnic Russian Ukrainians after the coup. If you wanted to detect the role of these SS-wannabes from the Times’ coverage, you’d have to scour the last few paragraphs of a few stories that dealt with other aspects of the Ukraine crisis.
While leaving out the context, the Times has repeatedly claimed that Russia “invaded” Crimea, although curiously without showing any photographs of an amphibious landing on Crimea’s coast or Russian tanks crashing across Ukraine’s border en route to Crimea or troops parachuting from the sky to seize strategic Crimean targets.
The reason such evidence of an “invasion” was lacking is that Russian troops were already stationed in Crimea as part of a basing agreement for the port of Sevastopol. So, it was a very curious “invasion” indeed, since the Russian troops were on scene before the “invasion” and their involvement after the coup was peaceful in protecting the Crimean population from the depredations of the new regime’s neo-Nazis. The presence of a small number of Russian troops also allowed the Crimeans to vote on whether to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, which they did with a 96 percent majority.
In the eastern provinces, which represented Yanukovych’s political base and where many Ukrainians opposed the coup, you can fault, if you wish, the Russian decision to provide some military equipment and possibly some special forces so ethnic Russian and other anti-coup Ukrainians could defend themselves from the assaults by the neo-Nazi Azov brigade and from the tanks and artillery of the coup-controlled Ukrainian army.
But an honest newspaper and honest columnists would insist on including this context. They also would resist pejorative phrases such as “invasion” and “aggression” – unless, of course, they applied the same terminology objectively to actions by the U.S. government and its “allies.”
That sort of nuance and balance is not what you get from The New York Times and its “group thinking” writers, people like Timothy Egan. When it comes to reporting on Russia, it’s Cold War-style propaganda, day in and day out.
And this has not been a one-off problem. The unrelenting bias of the Times and, indeed, the rest of the mainstream U.S. news media on the Ukraine crisis represents a lack of professionalism that was also apparent in the pro-war coverage of the Iraq crisis in 2002-03 and other catastrophic U.S. foreign policy decisions.
A growing public recognition of that mainstream bias explains why so much of the American population has tuned out supposedly “objective” news (because it is anything but objective).
Indeed, those Americans who are more sophisticated about Russia and Ukraine than Timothy Egan know that they’re not getting the straight story from the Times and other MSM outlets. Those not-dumbed-down Americans can spot U.S. government propaganda when they see it.
[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine”; “NYT Is Lost in its Ukraine Propaganda”; “NYT Whites Out Ukraine’s Brown Shirts”; and “NYT Enforces Ukraine ‘Group Think’”]
As the Yemen International Conference in the Support of Yemen was in full swing in the British capital, London, Yemenis came in their hundreds of thousands to pledge their support to the Resistance movement this August 20, 2016 – yet another popular show of force, yet another grand display of sovereign political will in the face of foreign diktat.
To the sounds of explosions, and flying Saudi war planes it is Yemen which came to defy its invaders; a proud nation under unprecedented duress, a land united under the banner of its resistance.
“We won’t bow down to the House of Saud” chanted the crowd. “We will never bow down to the criminal House of Saud,” millions repeated in unison.
If Yemen remains in the throes of a brutal war of attrition for its dared ambition to live free under its skies, its people are quite determined to weather whatever storm Saudi Arabia will throw, so that their right to self-govern and resist oppression could be affirmed – never to be questioned again.
However one chooses to look at Yemen’s war, it would be foolish to deny still that those brave souls corporate media still label as “rebels” are in fact the carrier of a nation’s will; the very expression of a people’s inherent right to carve its own political future, regardless of what anyone else might think.
Let me be brutally honest here – Yemen neither needs foreign approval, nor does it require foreign vetting. Yemenis want what they want because they can! It is really that simple.
Yemen needs no liberating from the Houthis, for the Houthis are Yemen. Yemen is not being overrun by Shiites, Yemen is Zaidi country. There is no Iranian agenda at play either, only a desire to disappear the suffocating influence of the House of Saud.
Standing in opposition of the most violent, radical and reactionary theocracy ever to grace the pages of our history does not make Yemen an “Iranian agent”, it makes Yemen an expectant independent nation.
Media coverage of Yemen so far has been criminal at best, misleading always.
The public has been conned into a narrative which is devoid of all humanity, and democratic courtesy. The simple fact that media feel entitled to slap derogatory adjectives before the Houthis as to direct their readers’ self-righteous sense of political morality is despicable.
I read the terms Iran-backed Shia Houthis rebels too many times not take offense. How dare you define a people whom you know nothing about? How dare you speak over and at an entire nation because their will does align with yours?
Let’s play the adjective game shall we?
When have you ever read the following statement: Wahhabi-backed-Western-sold-out- twice-resigned-once-runaway-child-killer-Sunni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi? Likely never … Why? Because Saudi Arabia and its allies are still hiding behind this pale figure of a man to legitimize their odious genocidal military intervention against Yemen.
Let me tell you of this so-called legitimate political figure the West has canonised as Yemen’s forever president.
Hadi is a fraud and a traitor. Not only did he allow for the killing of his countrymen, he actually actively pursued their annihilation in the name of a chair he never truly was appointed to. Hadi was elected in a one-man election in 2012 for the duration of a 2-year’s mandate – not exactly what you call democratic.
Hadi was never the choice of the people, he was Riyadh’s choice through the GCC-brokered transition of power agreement (2011).
How can anyone speak of democracy and refuse Yemenis their own?
How can anyone still read corporate media and not deplore the stench of their abominable hypocrisy and bias?
Do not tell Yemen what it wants, but hear what it is telling you.
Hear what an entire nation is screaming from the top of its glorious lungs, and witness the rise of a Resistance which breadth will maybe crumble al-Saud tyranny.
“We won’t bow down to the House of Saud … We will never bow down to the criminal House of Saud!”
Can you hear them now? Can you not respect that a nation simply cannot bring itself to live the abomination which is Wahhabism? Can you not recognise that Yemen is the last line of defense for all free folks in Arabia?
Who will speak for democracy and political self-determination when radicalism will have nations at the mercy of their guns? Can you not see that what you refuse Yemen – free will, is exactly what you demand for yourself?
Do not tell me of the will of a people when under bombs millions have rallied before their appointed leaders.
Yemen is free today by the strength of its Resistance movement.
Yemen is dignified today for one man rose from the oppression of religious repression to reclaim pluralism his own coat of arms. Sheikh Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, one of the sons of Hamdan, Yemen’s very own legacy offered Yemen its Freedom to keep none for himself.
Sheikh al-Houthi liberated Yemen from al-Saud never to demand a seat at power’s table.
Do not speak of what you don’t know Mr corporate media. Do not define with your adjectives the nature of a land for which you have no respect for.
Yemen might be poor and battered but it is a grand and noble land.
Of course Saudi Arabia would want you to believe that Yemen’s political ambitions are illegitimate, unlawful and nefarious.
Have you ever bothered asking why? Have you even given the infamous “Houthis” the time of day before dismissing them under misapprehension?
I think not. What the public did is assume. What the public did is read those adjectives media associated ad nauseam to Yemen resistance movement, and automatically accept those labels as truths. Adjectives those days have become dangerous weapons of mass-destruction.
Adjectives have cost Yemen its freedom!
Yemenis this August 20, 2016 came to publicly offer their support to the new highest political council – and still Riyadh has cried foul play.
Millions took to the streets knowing full well that Saudi Arabia warplanes were up above to offer their voice and their arms to the Resistance, and still Western capitals have called for Hadi’s “restoration.”
What will it take for you to wake up?
Yemen has bled, burnt, exploded, pleaded, negotiated, mourned, cried and starved while you turned your nose up in disgust arguing what future a people should have instead of the one they want for themselves.
If you like the idea of a life spent in the shadow of Wahhabism why not book a ticket to Saudi Arabia and experience first-hand the type of democracy al-Saud have in mind for Yemen, you might find new respect then for the Houthis of Yemen.
One more thing before I go: no one said you had to love the Houthis, only that you respect that Yemenis do.
Catherine Shakdam is the Director of Programs of the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements.
A US warship in Iranian territorial waters could have little to do with innocent passage and Iran had every right to try to chase it away feeling its security threatened, said independent researcher and writer Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich.
A US Navy ship reportedly fired warning shots at an Iranian military vessel which sailed too close in the Persian Gulf.
RT: The US fired warning shots at Iranian ships near Iranian waters? A bit of a funny situation, isn’t it?
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich: Well, yes. According to Stars and Stripes, the American military magazine, they were actually inside Iran’s territorial waters. I think it is very important to make that very clear – they were inside Iran’s territorial waters. In fact, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that it allows the innocent passage of vessels, and that coastal states should not impede this passage. However, two things to bear in mind here: first, neither the US, nor Iran has ratified this treaty. Secondly, even if we disregard the fact that they are not signatories – innocent passage here stipulates what is very important, because what it means is that if a coastal state feels that its peace, good order, or security is being threatened by vessel, it has every right to stop the passing of that vessel.
I think that anybody would agree that a US warship does not sit well with innocent passage, or with the securing of peace. So it can be understandable why, with the given hostilities of the two nations, Iran would want to chase it away. Importantly we have to bear in mind that these US warships in that tiny stretch of water not only threaten the security of Iran as a sovereign nation… In fact, a few years ago they collided with the Japanese oil tanker. It is really fortunate that there wasn’t a loss of life, or that the oil spill didn’t damage the environment. It is very important to point out that it was inside Iran’s territorial waters, and that Iran acted within its right in kind of chasing away the US warships.
RT: Earlier on Thursday, the US was making a fuss about the previous naval encounter which saw several Iranian ships allegedly coming “dangerously close” to American vessels. If these incidents keep carrying on and we see some escalation here, could we see some major diplomatic or some other international scandal?
SS-U: Absolutely. I think what’s happening here is very dangerous. In fact, it had been mentioned on several websites, one of them an Israeli website, that the hope was to provoke Iran into reacting. The hope was that the US would manage to provoke Iran, so that Iran would attack …
I think it is very important to understand that the US has designs on all the major waters around the world. We see what it is doing in the South China Sea. We know that it is arming, training, and giving guidance to Saudi Arabia and that coalition to attack Yemen, so that it can control the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
In fact, a 19th century strategist, Admiral Alfred Mahan had said that the control of the waves would enable you to control the world. Now with everything that the humans have invented it would seem that it… no longer applies, but clearly America doesn’t feel that way, because it does want to control the maritime choke points around the world, and does control. It is not just a passage of oil – that is also passage of finished goods and food. So its acts are so provocative and so dangerous, that if we did have a proper UN, I am sure they would have something to say about it. But unfortunately the US is the biggest financial supporter of the UN…
Nuremberg: “a war of aggression … is the supreme international crime”
Waging genocidal war on a defenseless country was never so baldly and honestly put on any agenda for talks among US secretary of state John Kerry, representatives of Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship, and their mutual allies, even though they are all engaged in an endless genocidal war on Yemen. This war is a war of aggression, started by Saudi Arabia in March 2015, with crucial US blessing, participation, personnel, and ordnance. The US has been a willing, guilty partner and enabler in 18 months of military atrocities in a one-sided war that everyone involved knew – or should have known – was a pure war crime based on a paranoid delusion.
American participation in this war of aggression was a war declared by press release from the National Security Council on March 25, 2015, another example of the imperial presidency’s ability to act by fiat without fear of serious objection from the public, the media, or even Congress:
President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]-led military operations. [emphasis added]
The fundamental crime in Yemen is waging a war of aggression, which encompasses all the subsequent war crimes including bombing civilians, using cluster bombs, bombing hospitals, bombing food supplies, and trying to starve a population to submission or death. Yemen, with a population of 26 million people, was the poorest country in the region even before it was attacked. What the US supports and sanctions against Yemen makes any US complaint about Russian actions in Crimea sound like howling hypocrisy.
For all that the Saudis frame their war on Yemen as a defense against a threat from Iran, there has never been any credible evidence of any credible threat to Saudi Arabia from any element of the miniscule Iranian presence in Yemen. Yemen is fighting a civil war, a new version of the same old civil war Yemenis have been fighting for decades, both before and after Yemen was two separate countries. The Iran “threat” is the paranoid delusion supposedly justifying a merciless war on a civil population already beset by a four-sided civil war. There is no way that those who decided to wage this war of aggression could not have known the reality in Yemen if they had wanted to know it. Presumably they knew it all full well and chose a war of aggression anyway, recklessly, perhaps even thoughtlessly, but criminally all the same.
The Saudi goal was always to get rid of a longstanding threat on its southwestern border, where the tribal land of the Houthis lay both in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. When the long-oppressed Houthis, a Shia minority in a Sunni world, drove out the Sunni government of Yemen in 2015, the Saudis, without saying in so many words, decided on a course of action that could lead to a final solution. And everyone knew, at the time, and no one objected, according to this account by the highly reliable Andrew Cockburn on Democracy NOW! (whose piece in Harper’s Magazine for September 2016, ironically titled “Acceptable Losses,” provides an excellent exegesis of the war on Yemen, but with a more elegiac tone):
I was told, very early on in the war, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken went to Riyadh to ask the—this is two weeks—yeah, it was two weeks into the war [mid-April 2015], when they had already been bombing away, using the U.S. bombs, U.S.-supplied bombs, using U.S. weapons, killing already dozens, if not certainly, you know, hundreds of civilians, destroying factories. And finally, Blinken turns up in Riyadh and asks, “By the way, what are you trying to accomplish here?” And the Saudis effectively said, or at least the Americans understood them to say, “Well, we basically want to wipe out the Houthis.” Well, they termed it as “end all Iranian influence in Yemen.” So, the Americans—Blinken was a bit shocked by that, so I’m told, and said, “Well, you know, that’s going a bit far. But it’s—you should certainly stop the Houthis taking over the country.” And that, effectively, gave the Saudis carte blanche to continue this kind of mindless carpet bombing….
By 2015, American hands were already bloody with the US drone assassination program that had killed not only innocent civilians, but American citizens, without a trace of due process of law. In effect, already enmeshed in its own nexus of war crimes in Yemen, the US green-lighted the Saudi-led war of aggression that would make American crimes pale by comparison. As American policy over the years would have it, American weapons have been dispersed all over Yemen since 2006.
Kerry to consult on terrorism, but not US or Saudi terrorism
Terror bombing, an example of which is Saudi pilots flying American planes dropping American bombs on defenseless Yemeni civilian targets, is probably not the terrorism Secretary Kerry wants to discuss – ever – with the Saudis and their allies, never mind other weapons suppliers like France and the United Kingdom. As the official State Department notice put it in deadly opaque prose:
Secretary Kerry will travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a series of meetings with senior Saudi leaders, his counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen. His discussion will focus on the ongoing conflict in Yemen and efforts to restore peace and stability….
Those “efforts to restore peace and stability” notably include the destruction of two schools, another hospital, and a potato chip factory, along with the associated men, women, and children, especially at the schools. Perhaps the latest great military “victory” achieved by the war criminals known as the Saudi-led coalition is to drive the world’s leading medical crisis-zone organization out of Yemen by targeting its hospitals over and over and over and over since March 2015. Of course, America the Exceptional does not stand for this betrayal of human decency, and our presidential candidates of all parties have railed ceaselessly against this indiscriminate murder of patients, their families, their doctors and other medical personnel, forcing the White House to take action to bring to an end 17 months of aggressive war and other war crimes and crimes against humanity – no, wait, that’s not happening, is it?
Actually, if any presidential candidate of any political party has expressed the slightest objection to the Saudi-coalition’s genocidal war on Yemen, such evidence is so hard to come by that it may as well not exist. (In August 2015, Jill Stein of the Green Party mentioned in passing that the Saudis “are committing war crimes right now in Yemen,” and more recently she called for an end to US funding for Saudi Arabia and Israel because of their violations of human rights laws. She does not tend to make a point of the US support for a war of aggression in Yemen, but she’s better than any other candidate on Yemen.) At this point, a year and a half into our shared war of aggression, every candidate is complicit in this horrendous, unjustified war promoted and pursued with smug disdain for anything like peace by our peace prize winning President Obama. The blood drips from all their hands, their feet, their tongues and eyelashes, but most of all from every pore of our Nobel Laureate in the White House. (As the book Double Down reported in 2012: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people,” Obama said quietly, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”)
With the US at war, Congress has nothing to say about any of it
The US is at war with Yemen, in support of the Saudi-led coalition that launched its undeclared war of aggression on March 26, 2015. US war-making includes, but is not limited to: US intelligence services providing intelligence to the aggressor nations; US military personnel participating in daily target planning and attack assessment; US tanker aircraft re-fueling aggressor nation aircraft bombing Yemen (46,500 acknowledged sorties in the first 11 months of war); US drones targeting and attacking under US control; US military contractors servicing the Saudi F-15s that bomb Yemen; US personnel training Saudi military; US military personnel operating in Yemen; and the US Navy reinforcing the Saudi blockade intent on starving Yemen into submission.
The US Congress has never debated, never authorized US participation in a war of aggression against Yemen. The US president has never asked Congress for such authorization of a war of aggression against Yemen. Neither house of Congress has acted on any bill that directly addresses the war of aggression against Yemen. More than a year after the war started, two Democratic members of Congress (joined by two Republicans) introduced identical bills intended to respond to the war. California congressman Ted Lieu (joined by Florida congressman Ted Yoho) and Connecticut senator Christopher Murphy (joined by Kentucky senator Rand Paul) asked their colleagues to address the horrors of the war (briefly enumerated in the bill), not by ending the war, but only by temporarily limiting US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. That’s it. They did not mention US participation in the war. Both their bills were referred to committee. At the time there was a spotty ceasefire in Yemen while peace talks proceeded in Kuwait (the talks were suspended in early August, leading to the Saudi escalation currently killing more civilians).
Incredibly, this non-response response to war crimes in Yemen has gotten Rep. Lieu some recent positive press coverage, in The Intercept of August 22 and elsewhere, even though his bill is designed to have no immediate impact on the carnage. Rep. Lieu is a colonel in the US Air Force Reserve. When he was on active duty he taught the law of war to other Air Force officers. His interview rhetoric, like most of his public action, is soft-edged even though he knows perfectly well his country is committing war crimes. He almost said as much in an August 15 statement objecting to the Saudi attack on a school in Haydan, Yemen, that killed 10 children:
The indiscriminate civilian killings by Saudi Arabia look like war crimes to me. In this case, children as young as 8 were killed by Saudi Arabian air strikes. By assisting Saudi Arabia, the United States is aiding and abetting what appears to be war crimes in Yemen. The Administration must stop enabling this madness now. [emphasis in original]
Rep. Lieu and others have also objected to the State Department’s certification of another arms sale to Saudi Arabia: this one is $1.15 billion for 153 tanks, hundreds of machine guns, and other war materiel. This is in addition to the record $100 billion in arms sales to the Saudis already made by the Obama administration. The latest arms deal suggested to Rep. Lieu “that the administration is, at best, callously indifferent to the mass amount of civilians dying as a result of the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing.” He did not openly consider whether 153 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and other weaponry might open the way for the air war of aggression to be matched by an escalation of the ground war of aggression as well. Twenty of those new US tanks are specifically designated as replacements for tanks lost in combat, some of them in Yemen. On the other hand, the official State Department notice of the Abrams Tank sale assures Congress: “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” That’s hardly reassuring in a region where wars of attrition and military quagmires are killing not only thousands of Yemenis, but Palestinians, Israelis, Lebanese, Syrians, Saudis, Turks, Kurds, Iraqis, Afghans, and god knows who else, more often than not with Made-in-USA weapons and munitions.
The proposed US tank sale has drawn the attention of several NGOs (non-governmental organizations) looking to wash American hands of the war on Yemen by blocking the sale, or at least having a debate about it in Congress. Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote a letter to Secretary Kerry August 19, with temperate language of concern about several countries, including Yemen. HRW asked Secretary Kerry “to emphasize the potential consequences if Saudi Arabia fails to improve its conduct.” But it did not suggest what those consequences might be in light of the reality that the US has coordinated and condones all Saudi conduct to date. CODEPINK is supporting a petition to support the Congressional letter that urges President Obama to postpone the US tank sale to the Saudis.
Even The New York Times is expressing something shy of anguish over “American complicity” and “carnage” and targets that are not “legitimate” under international law as it supports efforts to block the tank sale in Congress. The Times doesn’t mention that this is the same Congress that in June – supporting a White House request – refused to block the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia for fear of “stigmatizing” cluster bombs. That’s a reflection of the American version of reality, since cluster bombs are already stigmatized by most countries of the world and using them on civilians, as US-Saudi forces do in Yemen, is widely understood to be a war crime. The solution, according to the Times :
Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.
That can’t happen in the real world, where the president and the Saudis all know they are war criminals and are, like Macbeth, so steeped in blood “that should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”
There is no reason to expect any good to come to Yemen until a whole lot more Americans face the reality of their country’s support for a genocidal war of aggression. When enough Americans recognize that, then they will have to do a lot more about it than stop selling tanks to the aggressors. Until then the US-sponsored atrocity of ethnic cleansing in a poverty-stricken country that threatens no one will continue unabated.
A US drone attack has killed 22 Afghan soldiers held by Taliban militants in the southern Helmand province, while Taliban have overrun a strategic district elsewhere.
Provincial officials announced the fatalities on Saturday. Taliban also confirmed the death toll, saying the airstrike had killed three of the group’s members in the Nad-e-Ali district on Thursday.
Helmand is a strategically important province for both the Afghan government and Taliban militants, who control or contest 10 of the 14 districts in the opium-rich province.
On Saturday, Taliban militants seized a strategic district in the eastern province of Paktia, from which they can surge towards several other provinces.
Officials said dozens of police and soldiers were killed as the militants captured the Jani Khel district after five days of siege.
Local governor Abdul Rahman Solamal said hundreds of militants attacked police check posts overnight, prompting security forces to flee the district.
Jani Khel sits at an intersection linking eight districts. It also connects Paktia with neighboring Khost province and Pakistan.
“If we do not retake it (Jani Khel) soon then Taliban can easily move from one province to another and can undermine security in at least three provinces,” Solamal warned.
More than 20 soldiers and police were killed and another 20 wounded in the fighting overnight, while some 200 Taliban insurgents were killed, he said.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said large amounts of equipment had been captured, including armored vehicles, light and heavy weapons and ammunition.
Taliban have regrouped since the death of former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour earlier in the year and are reported to be currently in control of more than 65 percent of the country.
Fierce fighting is currently ongoing against the militants across the country, notably in Helmand and around the northern city of Kunduz, which they briefly seized last year.
Late last month, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it had recorded 1,601 civilian deaths and 3,565 injuries in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2016.
The mission warned that civilian casualties had hit a record high this year, describing them as “alarming and shameful.”
“You can’t simply deal with ISIS and not deal with Assad,” Prince Turki al-Faisal told CBS News in 2014.
The former ambassador to the United States said “if the need” for US ground troops arises in the effort to depose al-Assad he “hopes the president will change his mind.”
Asked if Saudi Arabia would send ground troops, al-Faisal said no way.
”It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain… to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime,” Obama told the BBC in April.
However, around the time Obama made this remark the United States sent 250 ground troops into Syria—in direct violation of that country’s national sovereignty—under the pretense of fighting the Islamic State.
The Saudis scoffed and said the move was little more than “window dressing.”
Asked about a remark by Iran that Saudi Arabia’s participation in the coalition bombing of Syria is illegal, al-Faisal said Iran’s troops on the ground “killing Syrians” is illegal.
The Saudi prince failed to mention that Russia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq formed a coalition to fight the Islamic State in September 2015. The United States was offered to join the coalition but its response was “unconstructive,” according a statement by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
As a former diplomat, al-Faisal is undoubtedly aware of the invitation by Syria, but then we have to keep in mind he was talking to an American television audience that knows virtually nothing about the real situation in Syria.
CBS did not clarify.
That would be a deviation from the script.
It was about two years ago to the day I was blacklisted at CNN.
I don’t want to remind them they were sadly wrong, but they were. So write this off however you prefer, but understand that we were lied to again to drag us again into an open-ended war in Iraq-Syria. Last time it was Bush and those missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. This time it was Obama and saving the Yazidi people from genocide.
Wait, what? Who are the Yazidis? How did they get us back into Iraq?
Ah, how fast time flies.
Two years ago a group of Yazidis, a minority spread across Iran, Iraq and Turkey, were being threatened by a group called ISIS few American were focused on. Obama declared a genocide was about to happen, and the U.S. had to act. U.S. officials said they believed that some type of ground force would be necessary to secure the safety of the stranded members of the Yazidi group. The military drew up plans for limited airstrikes and the deployment of 150 ground troops.
No Congressional authorization was sought, no attempt was made to secure UN sanction, no effort was made to seek Iraqi military help to save their own people inside their own country. However, promises were made by the White House of having no American “boots on the ground” and that the airstrikes to kill people were for a humanitarian purpose.
Two years later the U.S. has some 6,000 troops on the ground, including artillery units and aircraft based inside Iraq and Syria. The limited airstrikes have expanded to a 24 month broad-based bombing campaign, which has spread into Syria, with the sideshows of complete collapse of democracy in Turkey, a Russian military presence in Syria, and an Iranian military presence in Iraq. For the record, the Yazidis are pretty much fine, as are ISIS and Syrian president Assad. The Yazadis do occasionally show up in fear-mongering, unsourced stories about ISIS sex slaves, usually spoon-fed to American media, and only American media, by pro-Yazidi ethnic groups safely in the west.
In fact, other than a massive regional death toll and no progress toward whatever the actual goal for the United States is (um, whatever, “destroy” ISIS), things are pretty much the same after two years, +chaos. And whomever is elected this November will be the fifth U.S. president to make war in Iraq.
Back to CNN.
As the Yazidi situation was unfolding, I was invited to tape a discussion there alongside the usual retired U.S. military colonel. I was asked a single question, explained in my answer that the U.S. was in fact using the Yazidi “humanitarian crisis/faux genocide” as an excuse to re-enter the Iraq quagmire, and equated it to George W. Bush’s flim-flam about weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
The host literally said I was wrong. I was not asked another question, though the colonel was given several minutes to explain the urgency of the situation, demand America act where no one else would, and assure the public that Obama planned only limited, surgical strikes and that was it, one and done.
My question was edited out, the colonel’s lengthy answer was played on air, and my very brief moment in the glow of CNN was ended even though I wore a nice suit and a tie. Oh well, we still have each other here, and hey, CNN, my number’s still the same if you wanna call.
By Brandon Turbeville – Activist Post – August 22, 2016
As tension between the West and Russia over the Syrian crisis heats up yet again, a combination effort on the part of elements within the United States and the UK are pushing for direct military confrontation with the Syrian military as well as the Russians. Indeed, after a period of time suggesting a major improvement on the ground, it appears that there is now the possibility of renewed vigor on the part of the imperialist Western powers in their goal to destroy Syria, even at the cost of igniting World War 3.
After having violated international law and Syria’s national sovereignty by not only funding and supporting proxy soldiers for the purpose of destroying the secular government of Bashar al-Assad but also by deploying aircraft and troops in the country despite not being invited in by the legitimate government, the U.S. is now warning Russia and Syria against targeting terrorists and Western proxy fighters within Syria’s own territory.
The new U.S. Commander of American troops in Iraq and Syria stated on August 22 that he will “defend” the Special Operations Forces aggressively deployed by the United States to Northern Syria if Syrian warplanes or Syrian artillery again strike areas where U.S. troops are located.
During an interview with CNN, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend stated from his headquarters in Baghdad that “We’ve informed the Russians where we’re at … (they) tell us they’ve informed the Syrians, and I’d just say that we will defend ourselves if we feel threatened.”
The hypocrisy and deception of the United States government on this issue has now reached a staggering level. An accurate translation of what Townsend is saying is that “We have funded proxy terrorists to destroy the Syrian government. Those terrorists started losing so we deployed troops to support them and forge new brigades of terrorism with Kurds. Despite the fact that we deployed these troops against international law, violated Syria’s national sovereignty, as well as the wishes of the majority of the world, we will play the victim if those troops are injured during the course of Syria’s battle with the terrorists we support. We will then attack Syrian planes as a response to attacking terrorists whom our soldiers are assisting in attacking the Syrian government.” In other words, the U.S. position is that “We will attack you whenever we want, however we want, and everyone and everything else in the world be damned. And if you dare respond, we will play the victim, drum up sympathy and good ‘ol fashioned ‘Murican patriotism back home so that we can launch a full-scale war upon your country.”
Essentially, Syria is being threatened with full scale war if it defends itself and a death of a thousand cuts if it does not. This is an epic level of hypocrisy even for the U.S. government but the most surprising element is that it can be carried out so openly. Perhaps Western audiences are now so utterly befuddled as to foreign policy that such overt acts of deception and aggression simply go unnoticed.
Enter the British. Never known to take a backseat in hypocrisy, thirty Labour MP’s are now calling for a “safe zone” in Syria, an obvious and admitted act of war that would initiate the creation of Libya 2.0. The pro-war camp is fully playing up the “spirit of Jo Cox,” the celebrated humanitarian bomber and warmonger who was murdered earlier this year. The campaign to create “safe zones” and “buffer zones” in Syria is being promoted not only by the war hawks in parliament but also by “friends” of Cox and the UK military establishment.
“In life, Jo argued with such passion and eloquence that the UK armed forces could play a role in protecting civilians in Syria by enforcing a ‘no bomb’ zone,” said John Woodstock, friend of Cox. “This is a time for Britain to show the courage and resolve which Jo herself exemplified by taking bolder action to end the horrific bloodshed.”
Translation: a warmongering MP was murdered so let’s pretend to honor her by ensuring that the people she wanted to murder while she was still alive are murdered now that she is dead.
This may be poor logic and poor presentation but, unfortunately, this type of propaganda is effective in the modern day UK.
The former Shadow Minister, Pat McFadden chimed in as well. “The British contribution to attacking Isis strongholds – in which our pilots do everything they can to avoid civilian casualties – is an important part of the effort to free the people of Syria from the brutality of what they have been enduring. The whole approach to Syria has been marked by a reluctance to intervene but telling ourselves that because we didn’t break it we didn’t buy it is of little comfort to the innocent victims of the war.”
Translation: We have been bombing intermittently for some time and that is good but we should just go all in, to hell with civilian casualties and to hell with international law. In fact, to hell with our own population who will pay the price in blood and sacrifice as well as lower living standards back home.
The UK military voice is chiming in as well. As Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said:
There is a military solution here and now is the time to be bold. We aren’t talking about boots on the ground, the very least we can do is place no bomb zones around hospitals. As the Russian government have strenuously denied that they target hospitals there should, in theory, be little danger of the nightmare scenario of a British or US jet shooting down a Russian one.
I have suggested creating a Safe Zone for civilians to go to in North West Syria and protect it otherwise they will remain and die in Aleppo or leave and turn right to Raqqa, where we could see them turn to ISIL. The very least we can do is place no bomb zones around hospitals.
Translation: We have to destroy the Syrian government. I think we can do this without starting thermonuclear World War 3 but it’s just a chance we will have to take. Let’s create a “safe zone” that is, in effect, a refuge for terrorists and an excuse to bomb the Syrian Air Force out of existence. We can use hospitals and civilians as excuses. And if that nuclear world war happens, we will know we made the wrong decision.
According to the Telegraph, sources close to Hillary Clinton have stated that Killary is planning on a “safe zone” approach upon her coronation, er, election.
The idea of establishing a “safe zone” in Syria is, of course, not a new concept. In July, 2015, the agreement being discussed would have effectively created a “buffer zone” that would have spanned from the Turkish border line into Syria. It would have extended from Azaz in the East to Jarablus in the West and as far south as al-Bab. The width of the zone would have been about 68 miles and would have extended around 40 miles deep into Syria, right on the doorstep of Aleppo.
The zone would have much smaller than that which Turkey and the United States have been calling for in the years prior and wouldn’t have necessarily stretched the length of the Turkey-Syria border. But it is a start.
True to form, the US and Turkey attempted to obfuscate the fact that their agreement was the creation of a no-fly zone by renaming it an “ISIL-free zone.” This is the same tactic used when the term “no-fly zone” and “buffer zone” began to draw too much ire from observers only a year ago. Then, the term became “safe zone.”
Semantics have served NATO and the United States well over the years. After all, a simple name change of terrorist organizations has made the Anglo-American powers able to produce “moderate rebels” and the most frightening terrorist organization the world has ever seen while using the same group of terrorists.
The description of the “ISIL-free zone” of 2015 was that it would be a distinguished area in which the Turkish and U.S. military would engage in aggressive operations against ISIS. It was floated that this area would have also functioned as a place where civilians displaced by the Syrian crisis may run to for safe haven and where “moderate rebel” forces can maintain a higher presence free from the battles with ISIS.
“Once the area is cleared, the plan is to give control to as-yet-unidentified moderate Syrian rebel groups. The United States and Turkey have differing interpretations as to which groups can be defined as ‘moderate,’” the Washington Post reported.
The reality, however, is that the “ISIL-free zone” would have been nothing more than a Forward Operating Base deeper into Syrian territory, working under the direct protection of the U.S. military and Turkish air force. That is exactly what the British and the U.S. are arguing for today.
Going further back, public discussion of the implementation of a “buffer zone” began as far back as 2012 when the Brookings Institution, in their memo “Assessing Options For Regime Change” stated
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
The Brookings Institution went further, however, describing a possible scenario that mirrors the one currently unfolding in Syria where Turkey, in coordination with Israel, could help overthrow Assad by establishing a “multi-front war” on Syria’s borders. Brookings writes,
In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.
Of course, the establishment of a “No-Fly Zone” is tantamount to a declaration of war. Such has even been admitted by top U.S. Generals when explaining exactly what a No Fly Zone would entail. As General Carter Ham stated,
We should make no bones about it. It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties and increased risk to our own personnel.
General Philip Breedlove also echoed this description when he said,
I know it sounds stark, but what I always tell people when they talk to me about a no-fly zone is . . . it’s basically to start a war with that country because you are going to have to go in and kinetically take out their air defense capability
Regardless of the fact that the Anglo-American empire may very well be risking a direct military confrontation with another nuclear power, the NATO forces are intent on moving forward in their attempt to destroy Syria and its government. The major victories by the Syrian military that have taken place in recent weeks as well as the inability of the West’s terrorists to roll back SAA gains have obviously convinced NATO that more drastic measures are needed and that proxies are simply not enough to defeat a committed military supported by its people.
For a national oligarchy intent on “warning” other countries against defending themselves, we encourage the United States establishment to begin paying attention to warning signs themselves.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.
The Syria Propaganda Campaign
Neocons and Clintonites have launched a major campaign with the goal of direct US military intervention and aggression against Syria, potentially leading to war with Iran and Russia. An early indication emerged as soon as it was clear that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party nominee. Following the California primary, the NY Times reported on State Department diplomats issuing an internal memo “urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al Assad.”
In early August Dennis Ross and Andrew Tabler opined in the NY Times about “The Case for (Finally) Bombing Assad.” Dennis Ross is a favorite Clintonite. In her book Hard Choices, Clinton described how she asked Dennis Ross to come to the State Department to “work on Iran and regional issues”.
NY Times regular Nicholas Kristof made his pitch for war against Syria. According to the self-styled humanitarian, we need “safe zones” as proposed by Clintonite Madeline Albright and retired General James Cartwright. That is risky but “the risks of doing nothing in Syria are even greater”.
PBS broadcast a story titled “Repeatedly targeted by airstrikes, Syrian doctors feel abandoned.” The story features video from the “White Helmets” along with photos from the reported April bombing of Al Quds Hospital.
Currently there is a huge media campaign around the situation in Aleppo. Syrian American doctor Zaher Sahloul, of the Syrian American Medical Society, has been interviewed extensively on corporate media as well as DemocracyNow with widespread promotion in Truthout and other sites.
There has been lots of publicity around a letter to President Obama, supposedly written by 15 doctors in East Aleppo. The letter ends: “We need your action.” The flow and wording of the letter suggests it may have been composed by a marketing company and there has been no verification of the doctors who supposedly signed it.
An online Change petition asks German Chancellor Merkel and President Obama to “save the people of Aleppo.”
The publicly funded Holocaust Memorial Museum has promoted the video #SaveSyria. One of the producers of the video is The Syria Campaign which is the marketing organization which branded the pervasive “White Helmets” as documented in “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators.”
In parallel with this media campaign, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has introduced HR5732 the “Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2016”. The resolution calls for escalating economic/financial pressure on Syria and “Assessment of potential effectiveness of and requirements for the establishment of safe zones or a no fly zone in Syria”.
Dr. Sahloul, the Syrian American Medical Society doctor / spokesperson says that Obama’s legacy will be defined by whether or not he attacks Syria to impose a “no fly zone”. It seems unlikely that Obama would do that at the end of his term. Instead, the goal is to prepare the public for the new war to begin after Hillary Clinton becomes President.
Falsehoods and Lies of Omission
In his article “The media are misleading the public on Syria,” author Stephen Kinzer recently wrote: “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.”
Here a few facts about Aleppo which contradict the msm narrative:
* At least 85% of Aleppo’s population is in government controlled area.
* The estimate of 300K civilians in rebel/terrorist controlled east Aleppo is likely a gross exaggeration. In Spring 2015 Martin Chulov of the Guardian visited the area and estimated there were 40K.
* While there are very few doctors serving in the opposition controlled Aleppo, there are thousands of doctors working in the government controlled area.
* The dominant rebel terrorist group in Aleppo is the Syrian version of Al Qaeda.
* The armed groups who invaded Aleppo have been unpopular from the beginning. In the Fall of 2012 James Foley wrote:
Aleppo, a city of about 3 million people, was once the financial heart of Syria. As it continues to deteriorate, many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition — one that is hampered by infighting and a lack of structure, and deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups.
* The rebel-terrorists launch dozens and sometimes hundreds of mortars daily into the government controlled areas causing huge casualties. Western media ignores this destruction and loss of life.
* The much publicized April bombing of the supposed MSF supported “Al Quds Hospital” in Aleppo was full of contradictions and discrepancies. These were highlighted in an Open Letter to MSF. To this date, MSF has not provided corroborating information.
* Much of the video purporting to show bombing effects in Aleppo are stamped with the “White Helmets” logo. White Helmets is a creation of the US and UK and primarily a propaganda tool. The claims they are Syrian, independent and non-partisan are all false.
* Much of the information about Syria comes from “activists” trained and paid by the USA. In her book Hard Choices, Secretary Clinton speaks says the US provided “training for more than a thousand (Syrian) activists, students, and independent journalists” (p464, hardback version). Obviously they are not independent and their reports should be carefully checked.
* In contrast with the ambiguous situation at “Al Quds Hospital”, consider what happened to Aleppo’s “Al Kindi Hospital”. Take three minutes to view the suicide suicide bombing of Al Kindi Hospital. Take two minutes to view what the “rebels” did to Syrian soldiers who had been guarding the hospital.
* Like Richard Engels fake kidnapping, the contrived CNN reports by “Syrian Danny,” the August 21 chemical attack in Ghouta effectively shown to be a staged event intended to force US attack because of the supposedly crossed red line.
* The letter to President Obama was likely written by a paid Syria War propagandist or Washington lobby firm. Read the letter here and judge for yourself. For contrast watch this interview with a real Syrian doctor not mouthing propaganda from K Street Washington DC.
* The latest propaganda tool being used to promote US aggression against Syria is the photograph of little Omran in the orange ambulance seat. The video comes from the Aleppo Media Center “AMC”. Like the White Helmets, AMC is a US creation. The photo of Omran has been widely accepted without scrutiny. The insightful Moon of Alabama, has raised serious questions about the media sensation. Brad Hoff has documented that the main photographer, Mahmoud Raslan, is an ally of the Nour al Din al Zenki rebel terrorists who beheaded a young Palestinian Syrian a few weeks ago. This is confirmed step by step in this short video. Another good short video exposing the propaganda around #Syrianboy is here.
Why the Burst of Propaganda and Calls for US Attack Now?
The Syrian crisis is at a critical point and there is prospect of the collapse of the rebel-terrorists. If they crushed or expelled, it would allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Aleppans to return home as soon as services are restored. This would also allow the Syrian army and allies to focus on attacking ISIS in the east and terrorist groups remaining in Idlib, Hama, the outskirts of Damascus and the south.
The tide is running against the rebel terrorist factions and their supporters. Up until the last year, fanatics and mercenaries were traveling from all parts of the globe into Syria via Turkey. Tens of thousands went to Syria from SE Asia, China, Russia, North Africa, Europe and North America. They were given carte blanche to depart their home countries, arrive in Turkey and be guided into Syria. For example, young Canadians such as Damien Clairmont went and died in Syria. His mother has courageously exposed the fact that Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) knew about his plans yet did nothing to stop him. Progressive Muslim leaders demanded the government identify and start dealing with the radical recruiters. It was evidently the policy of the cynically named “Friends of Syria” to “look the other way” as their citizens were being brainwashed then recruited to become terrorists attacking Syria.
Now, with terrorist blowback, these same “Friends” are feeling some consequences from their policies. Terror attacks in Britain, France, Belgium and the USA have ended the policy of collusion with Wahhabi terrorists. In the last year, security services have started arresting recruiters and new recruits. In Britain, a long time promoter of ISIS has been convicted. In Belgium, the court has approved the extradition of a suspected French terrorist. Previously Belgium was the Western country with the highest per capita number of citizens joining the terrorist fight in Syria. And now Turkey has started arresting people en route to join ISIS in Syria.
Since the rebel terrorists invaded Aleppo in 2012, they have had a constant pipeline bringing weapons, fighters and supplies into the city. For the past few months the Syrian army has been on the verge of encircling and closing the access routes into rebel terrorist sections of east Aleppo. Western media and governments which support the rebel terrorists are doing all they can to delay or prevent this closure. They are trying to stall or prevent a Syrian victory until someone more hawkish than Barack Obama is in the White House.
Who is Driving the Conflict?
Regional forces supporting the war on Syria include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Israel has always been deeply involved, contrary to the faulty analysis of some observers. Israel has provided medical and military support to Nusra/Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups operating near the Golan Heights. Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was explicit: “Israel has wanted Assad ousted since Syria war began.”
The USA and western powers are also deeply involved. Working with Saudi Arabia and through Turkey, the US has supplied huge quantities of weapons to the rebel terrorists. Sophisticated weaponry totaling 994 TONS was provided last winter as documented here.
On the other side, Iran and Hezbollah are committed to defending the existing Syrian government. They know that if the Syrian government falls, they will be the next ones under attack. Russia also sees this as a crucial conflict. The USA has expanded NATO up to the Russian eastern border, promoted the 2014 Ukraine coup, and insisted on economic sanctions against Russia. Syria is Russia’s only Arab ally and hosts Russia’s only foreign naval base. Russia probably sees this conflict as a crucial for its own future. In another sign of resistance to US global hegemony, China has indicated it wishes to expand military cooperation with Syria.
Following the US lead, Canada, Australia and West European countries have supported the regime change effort despite it being in clear violation of the UN Charter and international law.
What is at Stake?
Despite five years of tragedy and destruction, the U.S. continues trying to overthrow or destroy the Syrian government. This is not a new US objective. In 2005, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Syrian President Assad and said to him: “Mr. President, you know the rhetoric of regime change is headed towards you from the United States…. They’re talking about isolating you diplomatically and, perhaps, a coup d’etat or your regime crumbling. What are you thinking about that?” Amanpour is not only the CNN host, she is the wife of neocon Clintonite James Rubin.
In 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Syria to stop its support of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, “loosen” its alliance with Iran and sign a treaty with Israel. Significantly, these are Israel’s demands and of much higher importance to the Zionist state than the USA.
The war in Syria is bringing numerous conflicts to a head: sectarian Wahhabism vs secular Islam; the “new American century” with one superpower vs a multilateral world; Zionist dominance and occupation vs Lebanese and Palestinian resistance.
Hillary Clinton is on record criticizing the decision to not bomb Syria in the Fall of 2013. She has continued to promote the idea of a “no fly zone”. She is an avowed Zionist who has said she wants to take the US-Israeli relationship to the ‘next level’.
Zionist Israel is deeply worried by the prospect of a strengthened Syria and Lebanese resistance. In addition, there are many Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Syria and Lebanon. They retain their wish to return home in keeping with international law. Just as Zionist Israeli interests were a major factor in the invasion of Iraq, so they are in continuing the conflict in Syria. In addition, neocons have not given up their goal of a “new American century”.
What Has Been the Role of the Western Left?
The left has been weak in responding and opposing the aggression against Syria. Major factors have included:
– Saudi and US State Dept funded Muslim groups which support the aggression against Syria. This includes the recently famous Dr Zaher Sahloul and the Syrian American Medical Society. SAMS and Zahloul are aligned with Saudi Arabia and receive substantial State Dept funding.
– deluded leftist groups who support a fantasy “revolution” in Syria just as they did in Libya.
– the flooding of social media and the internet by “activists” and Syrian “civil society” groups who are actually paid and trained agents of the west. This is confirmed by Clinton herself in her book Hard Choices.
– uncritical acceptance of major NGOs who are predominately funded by billionaires. These organizations need to be considered with some skepticism. For example, in 1990, Amnesty International mistakenly corroborated the accuracy of the false claim that Iraqi soldiers were stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Syria, Human Rights Watch did not oppose the invasion and implicitly accepted it by only criticizing the lack of preparation. Physicians for Human Rights, another Soros project, has issued grossly misleading reports on Syria.
– alternative media which is progressive on many issues but echoes NPR and mainstream media on critical foreign policy issues including the Syrian conflict.
Some groups including Arab Americans for Syria, Syrian American Forum, Black Agenda Report, Syria Solidarity Movement, Answer and Workers World Party have actively challenged the disinformation but their budgets and influence are relatively small in comparison with the heavily funded organizations pushing for regime change.
Veterans for Peace, one of the most influential and respected peace organizations, has recently sharpened its understanding and position. Following a recent visit to Syria, the Vice President of Veterans for Peace, Jerry Condon, has said, “Every thing we read about Syria in the US media is wrong . The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state. In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.”
What Needs to Happen
Neoconservatives including Clintonites are pushing hard for a direct US attack on Syria to prevent the collapse of their regime change project. Claiming that the US and NATO can bring a ‘safe zone’ and ‘protect civilians’ is a grotesque falsehood. If the US tries to impose a “no fly zone” it will result in vastly more deaths and risk escalation into direct conflict between Syria, Russia, Iran and Israel.
Former Acting CIA director Mike Morell recently suggested the killing of Russians and Iranians in Syria to make them “pay a price.” He has endorsed Hillary Clinton as President. This is how dangerous, ignorant and arrogant Washington has become.
There is a clear solution to the Syrian tragedy: the countries who have been supplying tons of weapons and paying tens of thousands of mercenary terrorists should stop. The conflict would soon end. The foreigners would depart with much less fanaticism than what they came with. Many Syrian rebel terrorists would accept reconciliation.
There needs to be a global campaign but there is much responsibility in the US since our government is the greatest threat to peace. Following are specific ideas which are realistic and could help significantly.
1. Bernie Sanders raised expectations when he talked about the need stop the ‘regime change’ foreign policy. Now is when he needs to be clear and unequivocal: US military aggression against Syria will make things worse not better and must not happen. Sanders proved that a progressive policy is popular. If Sanders abandons his core foreign policy position and does not speak out strongly against the drive for aggression, it will be a huge disappointment and failure. He must not be allowed to betray his own message and end up as a porter for Hillary Clinton and the war machine.
2. DemocracyNow and other leading independent media need to start including different analyses. To a sad extent, their coverage of Syria has echoed NPR and CNN. If DemocracyNow is truly an “Exception to the Rulers,” it needs to start including more critical examinations. DN producers should be studying publications such as DissidentVoice, Consortiumnews, Global Research, AntiWar, MoonOfAlabama, Al Masdar News, Al Mayadeen, Counterpunch, American Herald Tribune, 21stCenturyWire, Black Agenda Report, the Canary, RT, PressTV, and TruePublica (not corporate ProPublica). They should be bringing the observations and analysis of journalists such as Sharmine Narwani, Edward Dark, Eva Bartlett, Brad Hoff, Vanessa Beeley, Stephen Sahiounie to name just a few. Syrian academics such as Issa Chaer (UK) and Nour al Kadri (Canada) could be interviewed. Followers of DN have heard Hillary Clinton as Secy of State and other US officials speaking about Syria countless times. Why have Amy and Juan not interviewed the Syrian Ambassador to the UN?
3. This is an opportunity and challenge for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party. They are clear on this issue. If they can get a mass audience to hear their message, it could be crucial to their winning support and prompting crucial national debate. At the moment there is almost no debate on the life and death issue of war in the Middle East. Instead, the media is filled with propaganda using a boy’s photo to promote more war. The Green Party could play a hugely important role exposing the danger and duplicity of Clinton and Trump. They could play a key role in blocking the Clintonite march to a new war.
4. Veterans for Peace will hopefully play a leading role in changing the perception and ending the demobilization of the US peace movement. There is a lot at stake.
Rick Sterling is a retired aerospace engineer who now does research/writing on international issues. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Just when you thought US foreign policy could not get more absurd. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who is listed as “commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria,” has issued a warning to the Syrian military that if its counter-insurgency operations on Syrian soil leave US troops on Syrian soil “feeling threatened,” the US military would “defend itself.”
That needs to be broken down to even be believed.
The Syrian military is fighting an armed uprising on its own soil. The US government is training and equipping several factions of that armed insurgency, in this case the Kurdish YPG militia. The US military is also operating on Syrian soil alongside and in support of the YPG militia. Members of the YPG militia have, over the past several days, been firing on Syrian government forces. The Syrian air force returns fire on its own soil and the US military that is illegally operating on Syrian soil issues a warning to the Syrian government to stop firing on insurgents on Syrian soil!
The US government has a military “commander” commanding US forces operating illegally — according to US and international law — on a foreign country’s soil.
Logic might suggest that if the US military does not want its Special Forces to feel threatened by Syrian government counter-insurgency activities, perhaps it should remove them from that foreign territory in which they are illegally operating.
But the empire creates its own logic and it is not for we mere mortals to understand it. If the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex want to threaten war in Syria (which will be de facto war with Russia) it is not our place to question it. We just plug in to our television screens and feel that soothing sound of state propaganda telling us it’s all being done to keep us safe. There, that feels better…
The US military has withdrawn from Saudi Arabia its personnel who were coordinating with the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, and sharply reduced the number of staff elsewhere who were assisting in that planning, US officials told Reuters.
Fewer than five US service people are now assigned full-time to the “Joint Combined Planning Cell,” which was established last year to coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and limited intelligence-sharing, Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a US Navy spokesman in Bahrain, told Reuters.
That is down from a peak of about 45 staff members who were dedicated to the effort full-time in Riyadh and elsewhere, he said.
The June staff withdrawal, which US officials say followed a lull in air strikes in Yemen earlier this year, reduces Washington’s day-to-day involvement in advising a campaign that has come under increasing scrutiny for causing civilian casualties.
A Pentagon statement issued after Reuters disclosed the withdrawal acknowledged that the JCPC, as originally conceived, had been “largely shelved” and that ongoing support was limited, despite renewed fighting this summer.
“The cooperation that we’ve extended to Saudi Arabia since the conflict escalated again is modest and it is not a blank check,” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reduced staffing was not due to the growing international outcry over civilian casualties in the 16-month civil war that has killed more than 6,500 people in Yemen, about half of them civilians.
But the Pentagon, in some of its strongest language yet, also acknowledged concerns about the conflict, which has brought Yemen close to famine and cost more than $14 billion in damage to infrastructure and economic losses.
“Even as we assist the Saudis regarding their territorial integrity, it does not mean that we will refrain from expressing our concern about the war in Yemen and how it has been waged,” Stump said.
“In our discussions with the Saudi-led coalition, we have pressed the need to minimize civilian casualties.”
Riyadh Plays down Move
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asseri, declined to confirm details about the positioning of US military personnel, but played down such moves.
“The relationship between the kingdom and the US is a strategic one. If true, this move reflects something at a tactical level,” Asseri told Reuters.
“The US may move its assets, but that doesn’t have any impact on the bilateral relationship between the countries.”
Since the campaign began, the US military has conducted an average of two refueling sorties every day and provided limited intelligence support to the coalition. That assistance continues, Reuters cited officials as saying.